Faleke floors PDP’s Okunola in Lagos as Chimaroke wins Senator Nnaji in court

The Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Ikeja on Friday struck out an application challenging the victory of James Faleke, representing Ikeja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Kunaza Hamidu, struck out the application following a motion filed by the petitioner, Mutiu Okunola, a candidate of the PDP, who ran against Faleke in the election.
Okunola, who defected to the APC, had raised a petition against Faleke, the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He had sought a reversal of Faleke’s victory, asking the tribunal to declare him winner of the election.
During proceedings, Okunola’s counsel, Owoyemi Ibrahim, informed the tribunal that Okunola had made a decision to withdraw the petition he filed against the respondents.
Ibrahim told the three-man panel that in withdrawing the petition, Ibrahim filed a motion pursuant to Section 145(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 alongside an 11-paragraph affidavit which was deposed to by Okunola, the petitioner.
He, therefore, urged the tribunal to grant the prayers contained in the motion and withdraw the petition filed against all the respondents.
Responding, Kolawole Salami, Counsel to Faleke and Ademola Adefolaju, Counsel to the APC, told the tribunal that they would not oppose the petitioner’s motion to withdraw.
Salami and Adefolaju also informed the tribunal that their clients had filed a nine-paragraph affidavit in response to the petitioner’s motion.
Counsel to INEC, Z. S. Makinde also informed the court that INEC would not be opposing the motion.
Following the submissions of counsel, Hamidu said: “having read through the petitioner’s motion dated and filed on May 30, with the affidavit and written address and having gone through the first and second respondents’ affidavits, leave is granted to the petitioner to withdraw his motion.
 “Consequently, petitioner’s petition against all the respondents is hereby struck out.
Similarly, a former Senator representing Enugu East senatorial zone, Gilbert Nnaji has lost his bid to return to the Red Chambers of the National Assembly.
This is as the Enugu Division of the Appeal Court, on Friday, dismissed his case for lacking in merit.
The Appellate Court in a unanimous decision in the appeal filed against a former governor of the State and now Senator representing Enugu East, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, came hard on Nnaji for accusing the trial court of not giving him fair hearing.
The three issues for determination were resolved on behalf of Nnamani and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Nnaji had approached a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu asking that he be declared the rightful candidate of the PDP, on the grounds that Nnamani was not allegedly present for the party’s screening before the primary elections.
However, Nnamani, through his counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu countered his claims, insisting that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit as it was statute barred.
The PDP on its part also tendered documents before the court showing that the former governor was cleared to contest the primary election.
The Federal High Court, in its judgement on April 5, agreed with Nnamani and the PDP that the suit was statute barred and consequently struck it out.
Not satisfied, Nnaji headed to the Appeal Court with three grounds of Appeal. In his appeal, he accused the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba of denying him right to fair hearing.
However, delivering judgement on Friday, Justice C.E Iyizoba, JCA, Hon. Justice Bolaji Yusuf, JCA, and Hon Justice Ibrahim Andenyangtso, JCA, agreed with the entire decision of the lower court.
It said the suit was filed outside the 14-day period allowed by law, as the date of occurrence of event was 15th of September while the suit was filed on 8th of October, 2018.
It upheld the decision of the trial court that the case was statute barred.
Justice Iyizoba, who read the judgement said “the inevitable conclusion is that the Appeal lacks merit, proof, is speculative and is hereby dismissed.”
The Court held that even considering the merits of the case, Nnaji “defaulted in his undertaking to abide by the decision of the party before the primary election. He cannot rescind from his decision.”
While also declaring that Nnaji had no footing on which to allege lack of fair hearing, the Appeal Court said “the action of the applicant is unpardonable.”
“Having resolved all the three issues for determination in favour of the respondents, I hold that this application is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed,” the Court held further.


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